Tuesday, 27 January 2015 01:14
MELBOURNE (Reuters): Having dispatched one of his 2014 grand slam vanquishers to reach the Australian Open quarter-finals, Stan Wawrinka is now getting ready to face another on Wednesday.
Wawrinka avenged his early exit at last year’s French Open with a 7-6(2) 6-4 4-6 7-6(8) victory over Guillermo Garcia-Lopez on Monday to book his place in the last eight and now must face his U.S. Open nemesis Kei Nishikori.
“It’s always tough to play against him. He’s a great shot maker. He’s always taking the ball really early and doesn’t give you a lot of time,” Wawrinka said about Nishikori, who followed him into the quarter-finals with a 6-3 6-3 6-3 win over David Ferrer. “He’s a tough, tough player.”
The fourth-seeded Wawrinka has adopted a low-key approach to his title defence at Melbourne Park, swatting away questions about how last year’s experience could help him with a polite, but standard response – that was last year.
The approach was evident again on Monday when asked if the five-set loss to Nishikori in the quarter-finals at Flushing Meadows would have any influence on Wednesday’s clash.
“(We) start (at) zero again. It’s a new year,” he said. “Different conditions if I have to play him. If I can play heavy, if I can play my game, it’s tough for him to always take the ball early. We’ll see how I’m going to deal with that.”
While the 29-year-old Swiss was keen to put the past behind him, at least his performance against Garcia-Lopez buried the memories of Roland Garros.
Wawrinka became the first Australian Open champion to lose in the first round at Roland Garros since Petr Korda in 1998 when Garcia-Lopez dumped him out last year and he did not have it easy against the 31-year-old this time around either.